Profile: Maya Kumits

Hey, I’m Maya. I cultivate code so it grows with direction and purpose.

Maya Kumits, Engineering Manager & Spiritual Warrior 

maya@kun.ai



What I Do

Whether I’m estimating scope or building out requirements, architecting a solution or even laying down the code myself, I do whatever it takes to keep our engineering projects on track and our clients happy.

engineering | product management | developer

Recent Projects

In a landscape where devices outnumber people, I’m helping AAA create next-generation home security and maintenance services centered around the people that will use them. 

How I Work

I've been working remotely for about 8 years now and can really work anywhere. Sit me down with a laptop and I will stay there for hours. Especially at home where it’s all creature comforts and no distractions. I have a lot of work stations in my apartment that I rotate between depending on my mood. I’ll work at a desk in my bedroom, on the couch when I want a cushy seat, at the kitchen bar (aka my standing desk), or at my bicycle desk (yes, I own a bicycle desk). 

Part of the appeal of working remotely is the ability to see my kids when they come home from school. Instead of water-cooler talk, I get to catch up with them about their days. And then they pull out their homework and we get to work side by side. 


My Product Stack


JIRA

I use Jira to track tickets and transparently see what state a project is in at any given moment. I like it because it natively supports my preferred software methodology: agile. It’s also highly customizable and it’s the de facto standard, which makes it easy to onboard developers and customers onto my projects. 

Google Hangouts

I use Hangouts Meet for meetings. It lets us screen-share so that we all see the same thing (such as the Jira Board for our daily Stand-ups), which makes us feel like we’re in the same room together.

Slack

I use Slack for messaging to communicate with my colleagues throughout the day. I have channels for each team and prefer to have most project-related discussions in the channels so that everyone is informed. To keep the signal to noise ratio high, I will occasionally message someone directly if I don’t feel the discussion adds value to the entire team.

Other tools that I use regularly are Sketch for creating diagrams, Skitch for screen capturing, Mac Notes for...taking notes, Postman for working with APIs, and Chrome Dev Tools for building websites.

I also use an IDE, a DB client, and source control on a regular basis. These can vary by project and tech stack. Some favorites are git/GitHub, IntelliJ Idea, Wing IDE, Android Studio, Navicat, Atom.


When I’m not working

I’m meditating

For years, I’ve had a daily meditation practice. I couldn't do what I do without it. It helps me be present, centered, and productive. I'm such a fan of meditation, that years ago, I became a teacher and opened a Vedic Meditation studio in SoHo called The Spring Meditation. It's too good not to share with others! The best part is, once you learn the simple technique, you can do it on your own anywhere, any time - no apps or teachers necessary.

I’m rock climbing

Since I was a kid I remember loving to climb things and being up high. Rock climbing makes me feel like a kid again!

It’s also the only sport that is as mentally demanding as it is physically demanding. Most sports have a mental component to them, but this one has you facing an innate human fear on a regular basis - fear of falling. I love the challenge of keeping a cool head while climbing and not letting fear stop me while balancing that with the risks of climbing. 

I enjoy puzzling out moves and stringing them together. I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I try something that seems impossible, then “send it” after working on it. 

There are endless ways to grow and improve as a climber. I could do this for the rest of my life and never get bored. 

Maya on the sharp end
Also...

I dance, I draw, I do Aerial silks, I practice inversions, but lately, climbing has been my primary hobby. As a kid I was a competitive gymnast, in high school I was captain of my swim team, as a teen I was a competitive ballroom dancer. I’m also a yogi and a yoga teacher but I don’t teach often, by choice, and don’t advertise that because if one more person tells me I don’t look like a software engineer but I look like a yoga teacher….grrrr :)  



What’s in my backpack 

Laptop, laptop charger, iPhone, iPhone charger, Moleskin Cahier Journal unlined, Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica .5 mm, Buxom Lip Gloss, laptop case that looks like an old school boom box, AirPods, almonds.


Books that have mattered to me 

There are many books that I love, but I only consider one book life-slash-career changing. That book was Refactoring by Martin Fowler. I was lucky to read it early in my career. The book completely changed the way I thought about code and coding. My education at The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University was great, but this book taught me some of the most valuable lessons about building software. Martin Fowler recently released a 2nd edition and I had the pleasure of meeting him and getting a signed copy 🤩


Podcasts I’m listening to

I don’t listen to too many podcasts because I can’t listen while I’m working and I don’t have a commute :)  When I do listen, I’ll usually play

  • Death, Sex, & Money with Anna Sale or Modern Love because I love stories on those topics
  • Enormocast because I love all things climbing
  • Akimbo because Seth Godin is brilliant



Tom

Sandeep

Sandeep: Tell me a bit about the early part of your career.

Tom: I spent a decade helping to build start-ups focused on application and database software. This was where I learned how to sell and do business development. I was fortunate to be part of one company going public and another being sold to IBM.

Sandeep: What is something you learned during this time that helped you with consulting?

Tom: I began to appreciate how different customers achieved varying levels of success with the same foundational technology. This made me understand just how critical getting your team and process right can be.

Sandeep: This is something I only came to appreciate years into consulting, especially after the sale of my first consultancy to Capital One.I saw teams in different parts of the company trying to solve challenges like real-time messaging. Same corporate culture, same technology, same internal support mechanisms. Night and day outcomes.

Tom: We saw a lot of the same thing after selling our practice to EMC (sold to Dell in 2015). This is probably the thing I'm most proud of when it comes to the teams I've helped to build: the ability to perform well in a variety of contexts, sometimes in ways that inspires the client team to up their game as well.

Sandeep: Yes. It's particularly cool to see your team succeed in individual ways after an acquisition...consulting skills definitely translate into the corporate environment.

Tom: Totally. We have people who've stayed on at Dell and risen up the ranks, while others took the opportunity to become successful executives at other Fortune 100 companies....or to start their own agencies and startups.

Sandeep: We've both been around a while. My first consulting project was a Y2K thing for Cisco back in 1998. You've been around a little longer than that :). How do you think consulting has changed most during the past five years?

Tom: I think because there is so much infrastructure available now, consulting has become more delivery and outcome-oriented. A better blend of strategic and tactical. Public Cloud has also enabled velocity to increase at a pace unfathomable 5 years ago.

Sandeep: What has stayed the same?

Tom: It's still mostly about people. People who thrive on change and are focused on their personal and professional development. I love that this has not and will not change...it's what I love about consulting.

Sandeep: I know you're adjusting your work style to COVID. You're still a dude who clearly prefers to drive an hour for a socially-distanced hike or outdoor meeting over Zoom any day of the week :) But personal styles aside, what is specifically compelling about a remote agency during the era of COVID?

Tom: Kunai has been remote for years, which gives them an inherent advantage. There is something about the communication and management styles that just works in a way that other organizations are still figuring out.

Sandeep: Yeah, I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that remote work isn't just office work over Zoom. it's an entirely new paradigm. There needs to be an understanding for asynchronous efficiency...and this just takes time and effort to develop. How do you approach remote work and family? What are you learning about separating work and personal time?

Tom: No matter what the form of interaction, Focus. Be present. Quality over quantity. The best weeks are the weeks where I proactively schedule work and personal time. Neil (Kunai's Head of Delivery) shared a great quote with me "With discipline comes freedom." When I am proactively addressing the majority of my professional and personal commitments, I find I earn a little flexibility. A little freedom.

Sandeep: Tell us about a business hero of yours that I may not have heard of before.

Tom: Paul O'Neill is someone you may not know. His work in both the public and the private sector created a profound impact

Sandeep: We are both over forty years old :). How have you learned how to work smarter during the past decade or so? What do you wish you knew about consulting when you were 25 that you know now?

Tom: Consultants want to make lasting change. Lasting change is often not the act of a single person. Today I work much harder bringing others along on the journey.

Sandeep: Last question. What are you doing here? :) Why join a small consulting company this late in your career when you could have a cushy job somewhere else?

Tom: I love a good challenge personally and professionally. When I turned 40, I decided I would run a 10K every Thanksgiving weekend and try to have my finishing time be less than my age. With the exception of one year where I did not run due to a health issue, I have met the goal. I also recently completed the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race. So, I guess I'm here because I'm a glutton for punishment :) Jokes aside, our customers have a job to do and I intend to put Kunai in a position to execute flawlessly on their behalf. I love committing jointly to audacious goals for our customers and our business.

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